Comedian and actor  Jerry Lewis announced today that the 2011 Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon will be his last.

"As a labor of love, I've hosted the annual Telethon since 1966, and I'll be making my final appearance on the show this year by performing my signature song, 'You'll Never Walk Alone," Lewis said in a statement posted on MDA's web site. "I'll continue to serve MDA as its National Chairman – as I've done since the early 1950's. I'll never desert MDA and my kids."

MDA says Lewis has banked around 900 hours of live television time, encouraging America to help fuel worldwide research seeking treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS,  and related diseases.

Lewis' retiring comes a time when MDA is revamping  their telethon concept: "It's time for an all new Telethon era, " Lewis said.  "This year's six hour prime-time Telethon on September 4 will be spectacular, and I'm thrilled to be part of it. We're so close to treatments that it's absolutely vital for everyone to tune in and make a generous donation. America has always found a way each year to give me that just one dollar more to help my kids."

MDA President & CEO Gerald C. Weinberg says MDA is honored that Lewis will continue in his role as National Chairman.

"As MDA continues the growth Jerry Lewis has done so much to inspire, all of us who've been privileged to work beside him, and the hundreds of thousands throughout the world affected by the myriad of muscle diseases MDA battles, will acknowledge in our hearts forever the unrivaled role Jerry has played in our lives and the lives of all Americans," Weinberg said. "We're profoundly grateful for everything he has done and is doing for the Association."